The Best Foods to Eat After an Intense Workout

Post-workout is the most important meal in terms of getting workout results fast.

After an intense workout, our body needs some vital nutrients to replenish energy and recover broken-down muscle tissues caused by exercise.

So, whether you’re trying to lose fat or build muscle, choosing the correct foods after a workout is important to achieve your fitness goals fast. Because wrong foods is not only delay your workout results but also can ruin your overall health.

In this article, I’m going to share with you the twenty best foods to eat after a workout to achieve your fitness goal fast, whether it’s gaining weight or losing fat. So, let’s dive in!

Nutrients You Need After a Workout

The main role of a post-workout snack is to supply your body with everything it needs to repair and recover the muscle protein synthesis.

The main goal of a post-workout meal is following:

  • Replenish muscle glycogen store
  • Increase muscle protein synthesis
  • Reduce muscle soreness and fatigue
  • And enhance overall recovery

How can you achieve this?

Simple, by giving your body a good combination of protein and carbs. Carbs help quickly replenish your energy after a workout, where protein helps reduce muscle breakdown and increases muscle protein synthesis.

If you want to look further in micronutrients, vitamin C and zinc are crucial, which play a key role in healing and recovering damaged tissues.

The 20 Best Foods to Eat After a Workout

The Best Foods to Eat After a Workout

Whether you’re gaining weight or losing fat, you can add any of these foods to your post-workout meal. All you need to keep in mind is food quantity. To gain muscle, increase your serving size and to lose fat, decrease it, as simple as that.

Note: One single meal doesn’t significantly affect your fitness goal. To make some positive changes towards your goal, you have to take the right amount of calories in a whole day.

Let’s check out the foods you can eat after a workout to maximize your results.

To Gain Weight

Include the following foods in your post-workout meal to build muscle.

1. Egg Whites

Egg whites are my number one choice to eat in your post-workout because egg whites are a very convenient, easy to consume, and lean source of high-quality protein.

Taking 5-6 egg whites and bananas or dates are perfect combinations for your after-workout meal.

2. Milk

Milk itself is a complete meal. Milk is packed with calcium, vitamin D, and, most importantly, the protein we need after a workout.

Drinking milk is a great way to maintain or increase a healthy weight in the long run.

3. Tuna

Tuna is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acid and contain a high amount of protein — making it a perfect food option for muscle building.

Tuna isn’t only healthy food, but it’s so delicious. Check out the canned tuna recipes here.

4. Fruits

Fruits are one of the best foods to consume at your post-workout. It helps to quickly replenish the energy and provides many important vitamins and minerals.

The fruits you can include after a workout are:

  • Banana
  • Strawberries
  • Berries
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Watermelon

Eating any of these fruits along with egg whites, Greek yogurt, or cottage cheese can be perfect.

5. Peanut Butter

One of the easiest and quick option is peanut butter. It’s packed with fiber, healthy fats, and a good amount of protein, making it a good muscle-building option.

Have it with whole-grain bread, oatmeal, rice cake, apple. All are so delicious and healthy.

6. Rice Cake

Rice cake is one of the most convenient option, top it with peanut or almond butter, and you’ll good to go.

Rice cake is the main carbohydrate source, and combine it with peanut butter, provides all the nutrients you need after a workout. In addition, you can add few egg whites to make it a protein-rich meal.

7. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is an excellent source of calcium and protein with a little number of fats, making it a perfect after-workout snack.

Combine it with some fruits like strawberries, berries, banana is perfect for weight gain.

8. Quinoa

Quinoa is a great whole grain carbohydrate and a complete protein (all-nine amino acids) source. Carbs help to refuel the body while protein increases muscle protein synthesis — means it has everything you need after a workout.

There is a wide variety of ways you can eat quinoa. Check out some healthy recipes here.

9. Sweet Potato

One of the best complex carbohydrate sources is sweet potato. It also contains a handsome amount of fiber and protein with several vitamins that enhance your overall health.

When we’re trying to gain weight, our main focus is eating more healthy carbs, and the sweet potato is one of the top choices out there.

10. Whole Grain Bread

Want more carbs to meet your daily calorie intake? Whole grain bread is another great option. It’s packed with complex carbs, little protein and fats.

Take your desired number of bread, spread peanut butter and sliced banana over it, and enjoy.

To Lose Weight

Add the following foods to your after-workout meal to lose fat.

11. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is my all-time go-to meal option. Oatmeal contains a good amount of carbs and protein, making it a perfect after-workout snack.

Combine it with peanut butter and some fruits can give you a perfect and delicious post-workout meal. You can add protein powder or eggs to increase the protein intake.

12. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is rich in protein and also contains calcium which improves bone health. In addition, it plays a key role in our stomach to maintain a healthy bacterial balance in the gut.

Having it with some fruits is a perfect balance of nutrients to refuel your body after a workout.

13. Avocado

Although avocados are high in fat and calories, studies suggest that they can reduce belly fat because avocados are high in soluble fiber, promoting weight loss by suppressing appetite.

Avocado is a rich source of healthy fats and contains several important vitamins and minerals that help to improve our overall health. So, combine it with other carbs and protein sources to make it a perfect nutrient-dense post-workout meal.

14. Nuts

Nuts are a rich source of fiber and healthy fats, along with a handsome among of protein. Combining it with other carbs (bread or oatmeal) and protein sources will provide you with a perfect post-workout meal.

Also, its high fiber content can kill your hunger for a while to promote weight loss.

15. Brown Rice

Feeling hungry? Brown rice can be the best option. Brown rice is a great complex carbs source, so eat it with protein sources like fish or chicken to make a perfect nutrients balance and delicious.

Brown rice also contains a good amount of fiber which may reduce belly fat and helps to lose weight.

16. Seeds

Seeds are packed with polyunsaturated fat, which is also known as good fat. It also filled with protein, fiber, and several minerals, making seeds are a great option for weight loss.

The following seeds can help you to lose weight:

  • Flaxseed
  • Chia seed
  • Sunflower seed
  • Sesame seed
  • Watermelon seed

Add these seeds to your post-workout meal to maximize your workout results. You can have them with your oatmeal, vegetables, yogurt, etc.

17. Salmon

Salmon is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, and a high protein, making it a perfect post-workout food option.

A meta-analysis published in the national library of medicine found that omega-3 fatty acids in salmon or other fatty fish can lose belly fat and promote weight loss overnight. (1, 2)

18. Chicken Breast

Chicken breast one of the best lean protein sources and can be a great option to eat after a workout. It’s packed with a high amount of protein with little to no carbs and fats.

You can consume it with salad or veggies after a workout to increase your muscle protein synthesis.

19. Low-Fat Milk

Low-fat milk is an excellent meal to consume after a workout. It contains a good amount of protein with fewer fats. And for carbs, you can look for fruits like bananas or berries to make the balance.

20. Whole Grain Cereal

Whole-grain cereal is rich in fiber and several micronutrients, increasing fat loss and enhancing our overall health.

Most whole-grain cereals are filled with a good amount of carbs along with protein and fiber — an excellent nutritional profile to take after an intense training session.

What Should Not Eat After Workout?

When you’re adding the above-listed healthful foods in your post-workout, some foods can decrease or even ruin your workout results.

Let’s check out the foods you should not eat after a workout:

  • Processed energy bar
  • Spicy foods
  • Sports drinks
  • caffeine
  • Processed or fried foods
  • High fatty foods
  • Sugary post-workout shake
  • Chocolate
  • Low-carb meals
  • Eating nothing

Avoid the foods mentioned above and include the foods that we selected in this article for your post-workout meal to maximize your body’s potential to crush your desired fitness goals fast.

What is the best time to eat after a workout?

After exercise, our body’s ability to digest and utilize the nutrients has in a pick state. So that’s why it’s recommended to consume a good amount of carbs and protein as soon as possible.

However, the timing doesn’t need to be exact. But, eating a post-workout meal within 15-30 minutes can be perfect because this is the window where your body needs the nutrients most for optimum recovery.

Why It’s Important to Eat After a Workout?

No matter how intensely you are working out, nutrition is the key to see positive results because nutrition holds around 80-90% of the results of achieving any fitness goal.

Very soon after a workout, our body needs the right nutrients to quickly replenish the glycogen store, repair muscle tissues, increase muscle protein synthesis, and enhance our overall recovery.

If your body doesn’t get the right foods, it’ll not perform these processes to see some positive impacts of your workout.

So, whether you’re trying to build muscle or lose weight, it’s crucial to consume the right foods which can help to achieve your desired goal fast.

What Happens If You Don’t Eat After a Workout?

During an intensive workout, you lose water and electrolytes, and if you don’t refuel them, you’ll feel dehydrated, which may feel you tired and weak.

Also, after a workout, your stomach goes empty, and your body tries to recover and rebuild muscle tissues which aren’t happening due to not getting the nutrients.

And most importantly, the main reason for doing exercise, whether it’s gaining weight or losing fat, isn’t going to fulfill.


I hope you clearly understand the twenty best foods to eat after a workout. Then start adding these foods to your after-workout meal and simultaneously avoid unhealthy foods to achieve your desired goal.

Remember, a single meal doesn’t significantly affect your fitness goal. To make some positive impact on your goal, you have to take the right amount of calories in an overall day.

So, which foods are you really excited to try at your post-workout? Let us know in the comment section below. We love to hear from you!

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